3 Surefire Fixes for a Botched Manicure

You've just received a cherry red perfect 10…and then you (doh!) reach for your keys. Here, pro advice to help you revive a marred manicure.

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Photo by Nigel Cox

To Fix a Freshly Painted—and Smudged—Nail

Tightly cover the top of an open bottle of nail-polish remover with your pointer and middle fingertips and quickly turn the bottle upside down to wet the skin slightly, says Tracylee, an educator for Sally Hansen. Then gently swipe the polish smudge with a remover-dampened digit until it flattens out. Reapply a clear topcoat, like Duri Miracote ($10, duri.com), to restore the shine.

To Fix Sheet Creases All Over the Nails You Painted Right Before Bed

Try the same technique described above, but add a layer of the original polish color plus a layer of topcoat once the smudges are ironed out, says celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi. Faster yet, swipe a quick-dry glittery topcoat over dings as camouflage. Try Essie Set in Stones ($5, ulta.com).

To Fix a Chip That Occurs Days After Polishing

If you have the polish color, smooth out the nicked area with a remover-dipped fingertip as described above. Next, fill in the chip with matching polish, then apply a second coat of color to the entire tip. Seal with a clear topcoat. If you don't have the original color on hand, remove all the polish from the chipped nail and paint it a different, complementary color. Voilà—it's an accent nail!